Becoming an Enviropreneur™

“Enviropreneur™” – a person who finds creative or insightful ways to turn environmental problems into assets.

As the Ocean Conservancy calendar in my office notes, only 4% of the earth’s oceans are free from human impact. Our global economic model relentlessly pursues growth, going farther and farther, deeper and deeper, into ever more hostile environments to extract natural resources. It is my goal to encourage marine conservation/stewardship by applying business concepts to make special places, such as coral reefs, economically valuable and therefore worth preserving because they contribute to, rather than hinder, global economic growth.

From my earliest childhood, I have been passionate about environmental issues. My first fascination was with rainforests, but from the moment I started SCUBA diving at age 14, I fell in love with the underwater world and became committed to protecting the fragile marine environment. In the 15 years since my first underwater adventure, I have pursued what Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, has characterized as “intersectional experiences.” Johansson suggests that the best opportunities for innovation are created at “intersections” – the, “mixing of disciplines, cultures, and domains in which one can specialize through education, work, hobbies, traditions, or other life experiences.”

Creating such “intersections” has been the hallmark of my educational, professional, and personal experience. My undergraduate studies were in environmental planning, public relations, political science, and marketing, I have an MBA in real estate and sustainability, and I have worked on consulting projects across real estate, engineering, and environmental issues. Additionally, as a Professional Association of Diving Professionals (PADI) Divemaster, I have completed hundreds of SCUBA dives across remote areas of the world.

These “intersectional experiences” helped me develop a proposed approach to apply the financial and property rights concept “Marine Payments for Ecosystem Services” (MPES) to put a value on marine resources, such as coral reefs (asset) and invasive lionfish (liability), and provide a source of sustainable income for local communities by either enhancing the assets through active management or converting the liabilities into assets. Based on this concept, I was accepted to the Property & Environment Research Center’s (PERC) Enviropreneur™ Institute in beautiful Bozeman, Montana. PERC is a non-profit, environmental think seeking market solutions to environmental problems. PERC’s Enviropreneur™ Institute focuses on how business, property rights and economic principles can be applied to environmental problems. Through training and interaction with experts in the field of free market environmentalism, the Enviroprenuer™ Institute, “provides environmental leaders with a basic understanding of economics, finance, contracting, marketing and management so that the leaders can pursue specific projects for improving environmental quality through contracts, property rights and markets” (Columbia News Service, They turn conservation into profit by Michael Dang, 5/22/2007).

For two weeks I will be working with 15 other Enviropreneurs™ to create sustainable business models that can make a lasting positive impact on the environment (please see http://www.perc.org/enviroprog/enviropreneur/camp/participants.php for a list of participants). Upon graduation from the program, I will join the ranks of 150+ other Enviropreneurs™ worldwide allowing me to more successfully pursue my passion of enhancing marine conservation through the application of business concepts. Please join me in the experience of becoming an Enviropreneur™ (when Internet connections in remote parts of Montana permit) by following me on Twitter @BrettWHowell from June 26th -July 10th. My Twitter feed will also be retweeted @gaiaendeavors.

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